It is widely recognised that innovation is vital to drive and sustain longer term growth. While many UK businesses are facing the challenges that include budget constraints, globalisation and increased competition from new markets, it seems like a good time to suggest new ways of putting investment into commercially successful innovation.
Here are this year’s six shortlist candidates for Innovator of the Year who have adopted interesting and open approaches to innovation and brought great ideas to life.
Direct Healthcare Services is a specialist manufacturer of pressure area care solutions with a portfolio of innovative mattresses, cushions and overlays that are utilised across a broad range of healthcare sectors from NHS trusts to nursing homes and wheelchair service organisations. Apart from their core offering, the Intelligent Pressure Care Management mattress, their approach to innovation has extended beyond the core product range to evolve the NHS supplier/buyer relationship by delivering a series of educational events. They have also developed a unique ‘Partnership Design Product’ with in-house design capability combined with manufacturing flexibility so that customers get the products they need.
Just Eat was one of the first businesses to give local restaurants an online presence via a single portal from which customers can order. With the thought of liberating the UK from the tyranny that is cooking, they developed the idea of being everywhere, spanning TV commercials, restaurant marketing, social media, performing stunts, writing articles about the most dangerous vegetables to cook with, and a Don’t Cook Political Party. Just Eat became the UK’s most visited restaurant and catering website, with a staggering 55 per cent more visits than 2nd place Domino’s. They were also named Brand of the Year at the Tech Track 100 awards 2012.
Mesaplexx specialises in the development of new technology that radically improves the performance of mobile networks and is the first company in the world to deliver a compact, high-performance radio filter. Called xCube, the filter maximises the performance of active antenna systems (AAS) and high power small cells to boost 4G mobile network capacity by more than 50 per cent. Mesaplexx has already entered into technology agreements with a number of the world’s leading equipment vendors. Within 24 months, Mesaplexx has successfully filed 24 patents for xCube, with another 25 in the pipeline.
Plan Bee allows companies to hire or “adopt” bee hives, brand them and keep them on their premises. From then on Warren Bader, the “urban farmer” maintains the hives and produces the honey. Not only has the company led the way with this innovative idea, it also offers a fast and effective way for businesses to have a positive effect on their local environment. Plan Bee is an innovative company that also aims to be inspirational, bringing the benefits of bees to the widest possible audience.
Like a mini robot in your hand, SwiftKey presents the first touchscreen keypad with Artificial Intelligence technology to speed up texting and emailing on a phone. It observes how you interact with a device’s screen to make improvements over time. Since SwiftKey’s launch on the Android Market in 2010, the ‘mind-reading’ keyboard app has been downloaded 15m times, has hit the no. 1 spot in 58 countries. The company has recently launched SwiftKey 4, which contains the innovative SwiftKey Flow gesture-input method and supports 60 languages.
Versarien is an innovative advanced materials, manufacturing and engineering group, which develops a class of materials known as “metallic foams” or “porous metals”. Their patented and “designable” Lost Carbonate Sintering process enables mass-adoption of porous metals. Advanced cooling technologies, such as air-radiating heat sinks and forced air convection coolers, are examples of the advanced cooling technique products that Versarien has manufactured. They have, however, expanded into other markets such as renewable energy, aerospace, motor-sport medical and defence. It has won six Technology Strategy Board Grants and 11 national awards.
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